You will soon notice, if you have not already, that I have been going on a binge of drinking samples from Yunnan Sourcing. This is an effort to find out how the difficult, drought-prone 2010 season affected Scott's range of cakes, before his 2011 range come out. Spring and summer are always exciting times in the world of pu'ercha.
The 2009 version has the charming wrapper-design common to the entire year's productions,
which appeals to me greatly
I want all of these cakes to be good. The sentimental value alone is high, given that they have been hand-selected by someone that has been instrumental in the Western-oriented market for pu'ercha. How much can reality live up to my hope and expectations?
The 2010 wrappers, while pleasant and clean, are not quite as charming to me
I have tried these two versions of the same family's produce at different times - perhaps almost one month apart. However, they are very similar. If anything, the 2009 version has a little more to say, but it is a close-run contest.
Both years have good, long leaves - the 2010 is shown above
...and here is the similar-looking 2009
The 2009 cake is $53/375g, while the 2010 was $35/250g - almost exactly the same price, per unit weight. Both are autumnal teas, which is an interesting choice. Perhaps Scott can only travel in the autumn.
The 2010, as with the 2009, looks good
The rinse from both is a yellow-orange colour, which looks healthy. Tell-tale signs appear in the aroma cup: it opens a little thin, before building into a thick, sticky sweetness. They are much the same in the mouth: an active, yet light, opening, which builds into a mouth-watering crescendo.
Scott wrote that he noticed a "chocolate-like" aftertaste. I can approximately see what it is that he might be referring to; I would instead describe it as the particulate, slightly sour aftertaste that I associate with heavy green vegetables, such as broccoli.
They are clean and clear, as with the majority of Scott's cakes, but... these Manzhuan cakes really don't seem to wish to be consumed. They are highly unfriendly, vacillating between overly vegetal/sour and slightly empty.
Leaves from the 2010 version
So, then, what do we conclude? I would have put my fairly negative experience with the 2009 Manzhuan down to a bad session, if it were not for experiencing the same again with the 2010. There are some lovely examples in the Yunnan Sourcing hand-selected range, but I found this pair to be unenjoyable.